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Letter to the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office
headline Strasbourg 24/07/2014
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Commissioner expresses concern over NGOs in Hungary

“The stigmatizing rhetoric used in Hungary against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active in the field of promoting human rights and democratic values, with politicians questioning the legitimacy of their work, is of great concern to me” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, publishing a letter addressed to the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr János Lázár.

The Commissioner deplores in particular a series of allegations by government officials whereby the Norwegian Civil Fund (the so-called NGO Fund) was used to support political activities in Hungary. As a consequence, a number of audits concerning NGOs, all beneficiaries from the NGO Fund, have been recently carried out by the Hungarian Government Control Office.

The Commissioner urges the Hungarian authorities to refrain from any stigmatizing statements and to ensure an enabling environment for NGOs in Hungary. “Imposing additional administrative requirements on a selected number of NGOs, solely based on their supposed or actual activity, is simply inadmissible.” 

A further reason of concern relates to the legal basis for these audits, which was put into question by several interlocutors of the Commissioner. “I call upon the Hungarian authorities to revise their position which is at the origin of the launching of these audits. As a first step, the suspension of all on-going audits until the legal basis for such audits has been clarified should be considered.”

The letter follows the Commissioner’s visit to Hungary from 1 to 4 July 2014, focusing in particular on media freedom, the right to non-discrimination and the human rights of migrants, including asylum seekers. A separate report covering these issues will be prepared later this year.